Will Venable must have gone to bed with a smile on his face on Thursday evening after his pinch-hit two-run home run in the 11th inning proved to be the deciding factor in the Padres' 5-3 victory over the Cardinals in the first of a four-game set. Venable's homer, although significant, may have only been the second-biggest home run of the evening after starter Tyson Ross clubbed his first career Major League blast six innings earlier to give the Padres a 3-1 lead. Ross, whose batting average hovered around .154 prior to Thursday night's game, had amassed 120 at-bats before finally going yard.
Ross' pitching continued to impress as well. Ross surrendered only three earned runs on four hits over six innings with six strikeouts for a no-decision after Thursday's game went into extra innings in St. Louis. The Friars scored their five runs on eight total hits, including four extra-base hits -- three of which went for home runs.
Yangervis Solarte, who was ejected in the sixth inning after slamming his helmet in frustration, opened the scoring for the Padres with a solo shot to tie the game in the second inning. Center fielder Melvin Upton Jr. also performed well, enjoying a multihit game batting out of the leadoff spot. Derek Norris -- who normally gets the start behind the dish -- started at first base and took his spot on the highlight reel thanks instead to an impressive diving stop he made to save the game in the ninth. After Venable's go-ahead homer in the 11th, the Padres called upon Craig Kimbrel to earn his 20th save of the year with a scoreless inning.
In case you missed it, here are some highlights and stories you may not have seen from Thursday: